Lecturing Series: Personal Development Planning for Students

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As an early career lecturer you may have personal tutor responsibilities. This means that you will be the point of contact for a group of students (who you may also teach), and need to advise them if they have any problems that are affecting their work.

Offering them pastoral care is only part of the job. You might also be expected to undertake personal development planning with them.

What is personal development planning?

Personal development planning, usually takes the format of a series of face to face meetings throughout the year designed to encourage the student to work with you to improve their skills and knowledge base to benefit them in the future. You might be asked to help them to improve their CV, formulate a plan to achieve a job and conduct a self-reflexive assessment of the learning they are doing.

How can I prepare?

The system should already be in place at your institution so you won’t have to devise anything from scratch. Find out what other, more experienced tutors do in their meetings. Ask your mentor or line manager for advice. There should also be some paperwork (perhaps in the staff handbook) to guide you through your responsibilities.

You should also have an awareness of how university life can enhance a student’s employability, specifically how the skills they acquire can be tailored to their future career. If you are unsure about this, there is plenty of background material that you can read to acquire this information. For example, for History, the Higher Education Academy (HEA) has distributed a booklet entitled ‘The Employment of History Students’: click here for details.

Also consult your own university’s careers department. They will be able to give you some guidance on how to help your students and then you can all work together to improve your students’ chances of securing a good job.

These meetings will allow students the chance to raise any issues with their current studies, so make sure that you have checked the student records (whether on paper or held electronically) to find out whether this student has had any particular problems.

What should I do in the meetings?

The main part of your job is to be encouraging and supportive. If the student is having a particular problem with their work, such as time management, then you can direct them towards practical help, for example by contacting a student support tutor for them.

You will also have to complete some paperwork with the student to ensure that you have a record of these meetings. This may seem tedious but it provides the student with a record of their progress at university and also offers you both the security of having your discussion recorded in the public domain. Of course you and the student will not want to record everything, some of it may have been too personal, but you can decide together what to write on the official forms.

Each meeting will probably take between 10 and 20 minutes. One to one meetings are one of the most enjoyable aspects of the job, but they can also be very intense and tiring. But by being well prepared and willing to direct the conversation in a fruitful direction, you will ensure that the personal development planning experience is valuable for the students in your care.

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